Purpose: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a devastating pain condition of cancer therapy that may force chemotherapy dose reduction or discontinuation. Since treatment options for CIPN are quite limited, we investigated the effect of 10% amitriptyline cream on neuropathic pain.
Patients and methods: This pilot study enrolled patients with hematological or solid tumors presenting hands and feet CIPN (for less than 1 month without previous treatment for CIPN [Group 1]; for more than 1 month with previous treatment [Group 2]). Patients applied 10% amitriptyline cream twice a day. Pain intensity was evaluated at 1, 2, and 4 weeks then monthly up to 1 year. The primary endpoint was change from baseline to 4-week treatment in median pain score assessed by visual analogue scale (VAS).
Results: Overall, 44 patients were enrolled. Median (range) age was 67 (46-80) years, 34% were female. The majority (88.6%) had hematological malignancies, and the most commonly used chemotherapeutic agents were bortezomib and oxaliplatin. The median (range) VAS pain score decreased from 7 (4-9) at baseline to 2 (0-4) after 4-week topical treatment. No difference was seen between Group 1 and Group 2. Reduced initial chemotherapy doses in 11 patients as well as chemotherapy discontinued in 5 patients at baseline were resumed after treatment with 10% amitriptyline cream.
Conclusion: Considering the limited efficacy of conventional systemic treatments in CIPN and their safety profile, 10% topical amitriptyline appears to be a good candidate for first-line CIPN therapy, allowing continuation of chemotherapy at effective doses. The results are worth to be confirmed in a placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Keywords: Amitriptyline cream; CIPN; Neuropathy; Pain; Supportive care.